Sometimes I feel like Annie Wilkes from Stephen King’s Misery. In reality, I am most likely not Stephen King’s biggest fan, but I imagine I rank pretty high in a group of millions. My hard copy of his latest, Elevation arrived in the mail last Friday. I happened to have a book by two more of my ‘favorite’ authors and was faced with the dilemma of continuing the book I was reading or setting it aside to read the new King. Wednesday morning, four full days after getting it, I opened Elevation.
Usually, King’s books grab me right away. This time I wondered if he was rehashing Thinner, an earlier book. By page eleven I was hooked. Something fishy is going on with Castle Rock resident, Scott Carey. Of course, this is Castle Rock, and anyone who reads King knows things in that small town usually turn out weird.
Scott Carey is losing weight, dramatically. He confides in his friend, retired Dr. Bob Ellis, on the condition the doctor keeps the news on the down low. This isn’t a horror story. It is strange and inexplicable. There’s far more to the tale than Scott melting away because his appearance has not changed one iota. He still has a bit of a belly; his clothes still fit perfectly, he feels fine. But the numbers on his scale and Dr. Ellis’s scale continue to drop about at the approximate rate of about a pound a day.
The story isn’t only about Scott. The story is about the interactions between the people of “the Rock”. As often is the case with King’s Castle Rock tales, there are vague references to previously written books. I always enjoy those little asides.
King creatively addresses the recent arguments about gay marriage. Deirdre McComb and her wife Missy Donaldson are new residents and restaurant owners in the Rock. They run a trendy, upscale, veggie spot creatively called Holy Frijole. Not surprisingly, small town Castle Rock is not overly welcoming to a same sex married couple. It doesn’t help that Deirdre has a chip on her shoulder and is always certain she and her wife are viewed with disapproval.
The developing relationships between these diverse characters present a fascinating view of small-town life. Woven around the mystery of Scott’s weight loss provides a delightful story. Rather like Alice down the rabbit hole, things get ‘curiouser and curiouser’. Scott is the tie that binds the characters, and he does it quietly.
I like this book very much. I enjoyed the small town feel reminiscent of Harper Lee. It’s a story about folks finding they are not so different after all because everyone has some issue they must deal with. The delight is watching them resolve their problems. I recommend Elevation to readers who enjoy King’s easy, down home writing. I repeat, this is not a horror story in spite of the twists and turns it takes.